The Man and the Mouse


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Walt Disney with the silhouette of Mickey Mouse, the quintessential American cultural icon he created. Conceived as a replacement for now obscure Oswald the Lucky Rabbit after the latter had been usurped from Disney by the Universal Studios, Mickey Mouse was the animation’s answer to Charlie Chaplin. (Disney was extremely sensitive about his appearance. He would airbrush wrinkles off his promotional pictures when he got older).

Although it debuted in Plane Crazy in May 1928, it is not until Steamboat Wille six months later that Mickey got its cultural prominence. The addition of sound made this parody of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. wildly successful. It has become a true American symbol that in 1959 when Nikita Khrushchev visited Los Angeles for a day during his eleven-day trip to the U.S., he demanded a trip to the Disneyland. However, the Soviet Premier was indignant when the visit could not be made for security reasons.

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